The Exorcism of Emily Rose appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. From start to finish, the DVD offered a strong transfer.
I noticed no problems with sharpness. Even in wide shots, the movie lacked softness. It always came across as tight and well-defined. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I witnessed no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, a couple of small marks appeared, but the majority of the movie looked clean.
What would a modern horror film be without a stylized palette? Actually, Rose presented more natural hues than normal, though they tended to be rather subdued. The colors fit with the movie’s tone just fine and always appeared full within its dimensions. Blacks were deep and dense, while the many low-light shots demonstrated good definition and clarity. Overall, this was a pleasing image.
In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Rose was positive. The soundfield took full use of the many creepy scenes. It came to life most vividly in the climactic exorcism sequence; at that time, thunder roared and the track created a lively setting. Other scares popped up from the speakers along the way, and the whole package gave us a strong sense of setting that accentuated the spookiness.
Audio quality fared well. Speech was always natural and crisp, with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Music appeared dynamic and full, while effects presented the greatest impact. The scenes that jolted us offered deep, dynamic elements that punched us at the appropriate times. Actually, a couple of shots suffered from slightly mushy bass, but usually the track boasted tight low-end response. This ended up as a solid mix.
We now find a smattering of extras. These open with an audio commentary from director Scott Derrickson. He offers a running, screen-specific track. He discusses how he got involved with the project, the story and its issues, characters and cast, the film’s palette and other cinematographic choices, balancing the courtroom drama with the horror, influences, changes made for the unrated cut, sets, music and audio, research, and many other production notes.
From start to finish, Derrickson proves informative and interesting. He covers a nice mix of subjects that give us a good look at the flick. And in what may be a first, he even refers to another commentary that he used for research; he mentions that he screened Sidney Lumet’s chat for The Verdict as preparation. Here the student surpasses the teacher; Derrickson’s conversation is much better than Lumet’s erratic track. There’s a little of the usual praise, but not too much, as Derrickson stays on track and makes this an excellent commentary.
One Deleted Scene runs two minutes, 40 seconds. It shows Erin as she meets a guy in a bar and takes him home. It’s an odd scene that doesn’t connect much with the movie, though I suppose it shows her loneliness. It was a good deletion.
We can watch the scene with or without commentary from Derrickson. He gives us the usual background information and lets us know why he excised the sequence. Derrickson continues to offer solid notes about the film.
The rest of the supplements come from a series of featurettes. Genesis of the Story lasts 19 minutes and 46 seconds as it presents movie clips, behind the scenes material, and interviews. We get notes from Derrickson, writer/producer Paul Harris Boardman, actors Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter, and Campbell Scott. We learn why the filmmakers took on the project, research and writing the script, the story’s structure and characters, and the movie’s themes. A smart, incisive piece, this featurette gives us a thoughtful look at its topics and proves illuminating.
In the 12-minute and 22-second Casting the Film, we hear from Derrickson, Boardman, Linney, Wilkinson, and Carpenter. As expected, we learn about how the actors got their roles and what they attempted to do with their parts. Carpenter’s work gets much of the attention, though don’t expect a lot of depth here. Unfortunately, this featurette turns out to be fairly fluffy, as we get a lot of praise for all involved without much depth.
For the final featurette, Visual Design fills 18 minutes and 56 seconds. It includes statements from Derrickson, Carpenter, production designer David Brisbin, costume designer Tish Monaghan, visual effects supervisor Michael Shelton and animatronics designer Terry Sandin. The show covers the film’s color palette, clothing choices, sets and locations, methods used to allow Carpenter to play her scary scenes, visual effects, and practical elements. “Design” repeats some information from the commentary, but it digs into its information well. It’s especially helpful to see the behind the scenes aspects, as they elaborate on the subjects. I really like the detailed look at the Emily puppets created for the flick.
The Previews area features a slew of ads. We get clips for Sueno, The Gospel, Boogeyman, Mirrormask, Open Season, The Cave, The DaVinci Code, The Fog, The Grudge, The Pink Panther, The Amityville Horror (1979), The Amityville Horror (2005), and Into the Blue.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose may not provide the horror shocks expected, but that shouldn’t be seen as a problem with the film. It provides a stronger than usual look at the subject. Buoyed by a good cast, it proves interesting and provocative. The DVD offers strong picture and sound plus some illuminating extras. I recommend this thoughtful and involving film.